“There was a proposal to isolate people coming from the epicenter, coming from China,” Dr. Giorgio Palù told CNN. “Then it became seen as racist, but they were people coming from the outbreak.”
As I write this, Italy has 47,021 active cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
5,129 have recovered. 4,032 have died. That’s 800 more than China (assuming their numbers are correct), and the number is certain to grow.
The situation has become so dire that there are reports healthcare workers in Lombardy, one of the hardest hit areas, have simply stopped counting the bodies.
There were 627 recorded deaths Friday, their biggest day-to-day rise since the outbreak started.
These are very sobering statistics, especially when you consider a little over a month ago, videos were being circulated on social media of Italians going about their daily lives, of the tourist circuit bustling, of markets being full of shoppers, and the like.
This was all happening even as the Wuhan Coronavirus was known to be spreading, because Italy had not yet called for social distancing or any other type of related measures at the time that might have helped stopped the spread.
Those on the outside looking in and who had read reports about the outbreak watched in disbelief as local officials like Florence Mayor Dario Nardella were telling Italians to “hug a Chinese.” It was a patronizing virtue signal to show Italy’s Asian population support, and to prove to the world that Italy wasn’t “racist” after reports of alleged “xenophobic incidents” against Chinese people in Italy as a result of their China travel ban:
#coronavirus: seguiamo le indicazioni delle autorità sanitarie e usiamo cautela, ma nessun terrorismo psicologico e soprattutto basta con i soliti sciacalli che non vedevano l’ora di usare questa scusa per odiare e insultare. Uniti in questa battaglia comune! #AbbracciaUnCinese pic.twitter.com/pUdqEl0piW
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) February 1, 2020
It caught on:
The mayor of Florence, Italy, @DarioNardella initiated "hug a Chinese" on Twitter on Feb 1, opposing anger toward China amid the #nCoV2019 outbreak, and calling for "Unity in this common battle!" Many Italian netizens responded by posting photos of themselves with Chinese. pic.twitter.com/LutXfPyXc7
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) February 4, 2020
Even after the lockdowns began in late February, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was still telling people that Italy was “a safe place for nationals and tourists alike.”
Beyond Nardella, Italian officials were condemning efforts at the local level, like the one below, to prevent the spread of the Wuhan Coronavirus from people coming in from China:
A sign invite those arriving from China forbidden to enter was posted this morning in a bar near Trevi Fountain, Rome. "Due to international security regulations, all people from China are not allowed to enter this place. We apologize for the problem." #coronavirus phobia. pic.twitter.com/ICGdXV25s8
— Mirko Milito (@mirkomilito) January 31, 2020
And though flights to and from China had been suspended, flights from most other countries into Italy were not, meaning alternative routes from China could be used to indirectly fly into Italy.
Not surprisingly, Italy’s half measures and refusal to call on people to practice social distancing caused the country’s cases of the Wuhan Caronavirus to start skyrocketing around the same time the lockdowns were put into place (scroll here for details).
The point here isn’t to pile on Italy; we all know they’re literally in the fight of their lives there right now.
Rather, there are lessons to be learned by other countries in this, as an Italian virologist with knowledge of the critical situation in Italy explained in a recent interview:
Dr. Giorgio Palù, the former president of the European and Italian Society for Virology and a professor of virology and microbiology of the University of Padova, told CNN he’d hoped to see the first signs of a change after just over a week of nationwide lockdown, but that has yet to materialize. “Yesterday we expected to have a change after almost 10 days of this new measure … but it’s still rising,” he told CNN. “So I don’t think we can make a prediction today.”
The lockdown should have been wider and stricter earlier, Palù believes, rather than just focusing on the 11 communities initially placed in the red zone, and it should be tighter now. “We should have done more diagnostic tests in Lombardy where there was a big nucleus. There is no sense in trying to go to the supermarket once a week. You have to limit your time out, isolation is the key thing.”
He says the Italian government lagged at first. It was “lazy in the beginning… too much politics in Italy.”
“There was a proposal to isolate people coming from the epicenter, coming from China,” he said. “Then it became seen as racist, but they were people coming from the outbreak.” That, he said, led to the current devastating situation.
The moral of the story? Political correctness, insecure borders, and the desire to be seen as inclusive and welcoming to people from all over the world while in the midst of an emerging pandemic has had heartbreakingly devastating consequences for Italy.
For the record, Dario Nardella is now urging isolation:
— Dario Nardella (@DarioNardella) March 20, 2020
[Featured Image: YouTube]
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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